Statement of Significance
The Elmore Athenaeum and Memorial Hall complex comprises the original 1869 building, the 1885 Athenaeum, the 1912 Supper Room and the 1924 Memorial Hall.
The 1869 building was originally constructed as a school and used as such from 1869 to 1875, after which it was used as a library, then later (and currently) as a kitchen. This brick building retains its original form and its original timber ceiling.
The Athenaeum and Free Library, comprising a public hall with two ante-rooms used as a free library and reading room, was erected in 1885 alongside the 1869 building. It is a single storey brick structure, with the finely executed Michie Street facade of a formal classical composition compressed for small scale work in the Italianate Transition Classical style designed by prominent Bendigo architect WC Vahland. It was built by G Galbraith of Sandhurst. The simple well proportioned three bay rendered facade is simply articulated with rusticated piers, a simple cornice and parapet and pedimented name plates. The centrally located double entrance doorway has an attached Doric porch, flanked by semi-circular windows. The building has a timber trussed roof with corrugated iron roofing and T. & G. timber lining board ceiling. The walls are load bearing cavity masonry comprising modified colonial bond pattern externally and hard plaster internally. The internal floor comprises conventionally carcassed timber flooring.
The adjoining supper room, designed in a sympathetic style to the kitchen, but larger in size, was constructed in 1912. It currently has a false ceiling. A lean-to structure used as a kitchen, (now demolished), was attached to the east side of the 1869 and 1912 buildings.
The architectural style of the 1924 brick Memorial hall with rendered facade has been inspired by the architectural language of the 1885 Athenaeum building. The architect has not been identified; the builder was G Arblaster of Elmore. A cream-brick toilet block has been attached to the south east corner of this hall. The original outside toilets have been demolished.
The Elmore Athenaeum and Memorial Hall Complex is of architectural and historical importance to the State of Victoria.
The complex is architecturally important as a rare, generally intact hall complex with all three public buildings used as halls for the Elmore community still surviving on the one site. The 1885 Athenaeum building is a significant example in the formal Italianate Transition Classical style, compressed for small scale work, by the prominent Bendigo architect WC Vahland.
The complex is historically significant for its associations with important Victorian cultural institutions such as Free Libraries, Athenaeums and Mechanics Institutes, which from the 1860s increasingly played an important social and cultural role in communities. The different stages and development of the Elmore Athenaeum and Memorial hall complex reflect the growth of the town.
THE ATHENAEUM AND MEMORIAL HALL - HistoryContextual History:History of Place:
The Elmore Athenaeum Hall and Free Library was erected in 1885 at a cost of £800 on the old school building site, alongside the original 1869 hall, now the kitchen, which was then utilised after the opening of the new hall as a free library and reading room. The Hall was officially opened by the Chairman of the trust, Mr. Joseph Slee, J.P. on Wednesday 24th February 1886. (above mentioned newspaper article is incorrectly hand dated 16 Feb 1886 when it should read 26th Feb. This can be checked as the newspaper article makes reference to a Wednesday afternoon.) The trust having only £80 at credit, applied to the Bank of New South Wales for a loan of £500, which was granted. The remaining £300 was in the form of a grant, paid into the building fund over three years at £100 per year, from Mr. Berry, based in Melbourne, then Chief Secretary. Athenaeum halls and libraries were once a feature of 19th-century towns and a hub of social life and learning. Noted nineteenth century Sandhurst (Bendigo) architect William C. Vahland designed the building which was built by G. Galbraith of Sandhurst and Mr G. Arblaster of Elmore. The building served as a public hall for entertainment from 1886 to 1924, when the large Memorial Hall was erected. It was also used for the first few years for Church of England services. After the opening of the 1925 Memorial Hall, The Athenaeum building was acquired by the Elmore Library Committee in 1925 for £300. This committee consisted of the Trustees of the Athenaeum Hall. From 1924 the Athenaeum hall was used as a billiards room with the two ante-rooms used as a library until 1971, when replaced by the mobile library. In 1973, the Elmore 1st Cub-Scout group used the hall until they relocated to a nearby church hall in 1978. The building has been vacant ever since. The Engineer of the former Shire of Huntly, in a report dated 10 June 1992, and presented to the council, declared the building “unsound, unsafe and in a ruinous condition” and that the site should be secured by fences for public safety. A group calling themselves the “Save The Athenaeum Hall Committee” have since lobbied to save the building. Some repair works have been carried out on the building since the early 1990’s with plumbing works and drainage complete, brickwork, and recently in 1997, a new floor laid over a new floor structure.
This Athenaeum was compared with, (First 6 listed place titles entered as per Database entries.)
Athenaeum Library and Museum, Chiltern Athenaeum, File No. 600458, HBR1326.
The Athenaeum, Lilydale, File No. 602519, ED resolved not to add.
Stanley Athenaeum and Library, Beechworth, File No. 606561, Register of National Estate states of local significance only.
Athenaeum Building, Maldon, File No. 606674. (File No. not recognised by database)
The Melbourne Athenaeum, File Nos. 603656, 605138, 602664 &602665, HBR501.
Hospital Grounds McLennan Street, Mooroopna Athenaeum Hall, File No. 606899, ED resolves not to add.
Mechanics Institute, Wunghnu. HBR518. (two storey front section, rendered. Hall & ballroom.
Mechanics Institute and Free Library, Toongabbie. HBR544. Timber frame, WB clad.
The former Literacy and Scientific Institute, Stawell. HBR531. 2 storey, brick, 1 storey verandah on at least 3 sides.
Former Library, Buninong. Single storey, ornate facade.
Former Ballarat East Free Library, Barkly St., Ballarat. GBR.
Eaglehawk Town Hall & Mechanics Institute, Eaglehawk. HBR713.
Associated People: Owner PUBLIC OF ELMORE - THROUGHHUNTLY SHIRE COUNCIL;
Owner PUBLIC OF ELMORE - THROUGHHUNTLY SHIRE COUNCIL;
THE ATHENAEUM AND MEMORIAL HALL - Permit ExemptionsEXEMPTIONS FROM PERMITS:
(Classes of works or activities which may be undertaken without a permit under
Part 4 of the Heritage Act 1995)
It is the purpose of the permit exemptions to allow continuation of the
operations of the existing halls, but to preserve the 1885 building.
1. All exempted alterations are to be planned and carried out in a manner
which prevents damage to the fabric of the registered place or object.
2. Should it become apparent during further inspection or the carrying out of
alterations that original or previously hidden or inaccessible details of the
place or object are revealed which relate to the significance of the place or
object, then the exemption covering such alteration shall cease and the
Executive Director shall be notified as soon as possible.
3. If there is a conservation policy and plan approved by the Executive
Director, all works shall be in accordance with it.
4. Nothing in this declaration prevents the Executive Director from amending
or rescinding all or any of the permit exemptions.
5. Nothing in this declaration exempts owners or their agents from the
responsibility to seek relevant planning or building permits from the
responsible authority where applicable.
!924 Memorial Hall, 1912 Supper Room and 1869 building, toilet block:
* All interior works, except structural, exempt from permits.
* Minor repairs and maintenance which replace like with like.
* Removal of extraneous items such as air conditioners, pipe work, ducting,
wiring, antennae, aerials etc, and making good.
* Installation or repair of damp-proofing by either injection method or
grouted pocket method.
* Repair or replacement of boundary paling fences and gates.
* Removal of chain-mesh safety fence and associated gates.
* Regular yard maintenance.
* Installation, removal or replacement of garden watering systems, provided
the installation of the watering systems do not cause short or long term
moisture problems to the building, be it surface or subterranean.
* Laying or repair of gravel/toppings to the yard, but excluding bitumening,
paving or concreting where currently not bitumened, paved or concreted.
* Minor repairs and maintenance which replace like with like.
* Painting of previously painted walls and ceilings provided that preparation
or painting does not remove evidence of the original paint or other decorative
* Removal of paint from originally unpainted or oiled joinery, doors,
architraves, skirtings and decorative strapping.
* Installation, removal or replacement of carpets and/or flexible floor
* Installation, removal or replacement of hooks, nails and other devices for
the hanging of mirrors, paintings and other wall mounted artworks.
* Installation, removal or replacement of ducted, hydronic or concealed
radiant type heating provided that the installation does not damage existing
skirtings and architraves and provided that the location of the heating unit
is concealed from view.
* Installation, removal or replacement of electrical wiring provided that all
new wiring is fully concealed and any original light switches, pull cords,
push buttons or power outlets are retained in-situ. Note: if wiring original
to the place was carried in timber conduits then the conduits should remain
* Installation, removal or replacement of bulk insulation in the roof space.
* Installation, removal or replacement of smoke detectors.
* Lacquer finish to floorboards or replacement of floorboards with like.
ELMORE RAILWAY STATION AND WATER TOWERVictorian Heritage Register H1672
FORMER ELMORE WATER TOWERVictorian Heritage Register H1678
AthenaeumNational Trust H1744
"AMF Officers" ShedMoorabool Shire
"AQUA PROFONDA" SIGN, FITZROY POOLVictorian Heritage Register H1687